Black Histories, Black Futures Exhibit at the MFA
Curated by young scholars as part of the MFA’s new partnership with local youth empowerment organizations, Black Histories, Black Futures features 20th-century paintings and works on paper by artists of color and is a centerpiece of the Museum’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2020.
In the summer of 2019, four fellows from Becoming a Man (BAM) and The BASE participated in a series of workshops designed to build curatorial skills such as close looking, research methods, label writing and gallery installation.
The teen curators were mentored by Layla Bermeo, the MFA’s Kristin and Roger Servison Associate Curator of American Paintings, and supported by peers from the MFA's Teen Arts Council (TAC) and the Bloomberg Arts Internship Boston program managed by EdVestors, who contributed to the exhibition's interpretation and programming.
The culminating exhibition opens to the public on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the MFA and includes approximately 50 works. Black Histories, Black Futures features well-known artists including Archibald Motley, Norman Lewis, James Van Der Zee and Dawoud Bey, in addition to highlighting painters with connections to Boston, such as Loïs Mailou Jones and Allan Rohan Crite.
The exhibition also brings fresh attention to rarely shown works by artists such as Eldzier Cortor, Maria Auxiliadora de Silva and Richard Yarde.
Black Histories, Black Futures is organized into four thematic sections that explore and celebrate Black histories, experiences and self-representations. 'Ubuntu: I Am Because You Are' presents images of community life and leisure activities, while 'Welcome to the City' focuses on paintings of urban scenes in both figurative and abstract styles.
Presented on two sides of the Lower Hemicycle, “Normality Facing Adversity” and “Smile in the Dark” examine photographs and works on paper showing dignified Black people and families, from before and after the Civil Rights Movement.
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